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A constitutional theory for the European union


The proposed research aims at exploring the foundations of a constitutional theory for the EU. In Europe and elsewhere, constitutionalism is undergoing a decisive point in its history. Its fundamental tenets and its relevance for contemporary societies are being put into question by deep socio-economic changes. In this context of crisis, constitutionalism should be adapted to the new circumstances if it is to keep its fundamental role. Actual changes in constitutional law should be guided by new constitutio nal theories: hence the need to update and reform constitutional theory. The EU is the best example of the ongoing transformation of constitutionalism and the context in which it operates, and also the ideal field for this enquiry. There can be no doubt th at the EU is a constitutional polity that tries to overcome the limitations that currently affect constitutionalism. But the need is felt for a constitutional theory adapted to its specific features, a theory that can serve as an appropriate tool for its a nalysis and understanding as a system. With the draft Constitution proposed by the European Convention, the time is ripe for such a comprehensive constitutional theory. The Convention proposes to give a more perfect and complete form to the existing consti tutional materials of the Union. The results of the Convention make it possible to build on more solid ground a constitutional theory for the EU. They may also contribute to the general debate on the crisis and future of constitutionalism. The proposer int ends to examine the following elements: the concept of a constitution, the legal element, the political element, the institutional element and the federal element. In these five areas, two central notions will be given prominent place and will guide the en quiry: rights and competences. The current situation of EU law presents a tension between these two notions. This tension may prove fruitful in structuring the elaboration of a constitutional theory. Th

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